July 14, 2010 The Fresno Regional Foundation recently made a $10,000 grant to support the development of a new charter school in that city. This ground-breaking charter development grant is an example of the type of partnerships needed to help shoulder the responsibility of taking the Fresno charter movement to the next level. It also provides an example of CCSA's continued focus on creating a surge of high quality school choices for families whose students' needs are not currently being met by conventional public schools.
"Our work to secure grants like this Fresno Regional Foundation funding increases the new school pipeline," explained Jeff Sands, Senior Manager of School Development for the Central Valley and Northeastern California regions. "There are more than 80 new schools opening each year, so we know schools can do it, but grant funding can push applicants further along the path toward stability, quality and innovation, as in the case of New Horizons."
The New Horizons Charter School developer team is made up of a group of teachers who are seeking to establish a hybrid charter school in southwest Fresno, an area of concentrated poverty in a part of the Central Valley where urban meets rural. The developers plan to emphasize personalized learning and constant self-assessment in an individualized learning environment through labs, tutoring, and parent coaching. Once their petition is submitted this fall, the school is targeting a 2011 opening date.
To better position themselves for success, the New Horizons team participates in CCSA's Charter Launch program, a premiere, application-based, training program for high capacity and well-developed teams seeking to create and gain approval for a new charter school.
Through Charter Launch, the New Horizon team receives more than 120 hours of direct training and guidance from CCSA school development, technical assistance, and advocacy staff. Additionally, program participants receive a Certificate of Charter Launch and School Development from UCLA Extension and up to 18 graduate-level credits.
Sue Ruiz, Lead Developer for New Horizons Charter, was appreciative of the support she received from CCSA, especially Jeff Sands. "The webinars, the billions of questions he answered for us, the provision of resources, and the petition work we've completed through Charter Launch were the reasons we were able to respond as well as did to the Fresno Regional Foundation application. All the work we have done through Charter Launch prepared us for the grant application questions."
Charter Launch has been recognized throughout the nation in studies and publications and by many authorizing districts for its thorough training, school team development, and post-authorization successes.
"We are very eager to provide school choice to a population of students and their families we all believe need support. Through a solid educational process, we will help students capture a vision for their personal 'new horizons' and develop the skills necessary to reach those horizons," said Ruiz. "The energy our team hones from the grant recipient experience will help us reach our own 'new horizon' as well."
CCSA's next horizon involves seeking to increase the size and number of the Fresno grants, and to explore ways to expand this strategy of securing funding for school developers across the state. Efforts such as these will help the Association accomplish our strategic priority of growing new schools and a movement reflective of California.